If you have access to a few acres of rural pastureland, you may have the ideal situation to raise beef cattle. Small beef cattle farms are a way for landowners to supplement their income. For people that work way from home, a beef enterprise is a low labor way to utilize their land. Raising your own beef ensures quality meat without the addition of toxic chemicals or hormones that may be present in commercially produced beef. Cattle farming is attractive to individuals who have the needed resources, land and time to invest to make farming pay. The average salary of a small cattle farmer depends largely on beef prices and the size of the herd.
Income of cattle farmers and ranchers fluctuates from year-to-year, and is dependent on the market price of feeder cattle or dairy products and market demand. Cattle and dairy farmers may receive government subsidies that reduce a portion of the risk of raising cattle. Many small cattle farmers supplement their income with off farm sources. The United States Department of Labor, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-11 Edition, reports that in 2008 full-time salaried agricultural managers had a median weekly income of $775. The highest 10 percent earned more than $1,735 per week, but the bottom 10 percent earned $358 per week.
Dairy and livestock farmers feed, water and care for animals. They maintain equipment, repair barns, pens and farm outbuilding. They choose animals to breed and sell. A cattle farmer's work is never done as cattle must be fed and watered daily, pens cleaned and the animal's health monitored. Dairy cows must be milked daily. Cattle farmers manage the health of their herd and may assist in the birthing process. A cattle farmer's net profit or annual income is reduced by the amount they expend for veterinary services. Many farmers learn how to take care of many of the medical needs of their herd to avoid these charges.
Cattle farming is hard work and requires a level of physical fitness. Previous experience working on a family farm fosters the work ethic and habits required in a small cattle operation. A large cattle farm requires an intense amount of labor. In some cases, family members may be needed to help with cattle management chores. Farmers, who must hire outside help, will find their income reduced by labor costs.
Small cattle farmers may learn what they need to know on the job, although some farmers gain knowledge by attending a technical school or community college that offers a degree program in agriculture, farm management or animal science. Farmers, trained and educated in farm management, are likely to net a higher income than those without a farming background or education.